What is Life For?

Life is for living.



Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.

-Omar Khayyam-

What is life?  Why are we here?  What are we supposed to do with this life?

I recently came across a website for The American Institute of Stress – Found here.  It seems that more and more Americans, adults and children, are suffering stress-related health problems.  Stress is caused when our brains signal our bodies that danger is present, our bodies then go into the fight or flight mode.  Our breathing becomes more rapid, our hearts race, our blood changes so as to coagulate quicker in case we are injured.  These are but a few of the involuntary changes that occur in our bodies when we are stressed.

Today stress does not come from a band of warriors breaking down our front door, or a tiger chasing us on the plains of the Serengeti.  Stress comes from our jobs, our schools, our neighbors, the traffic, the bills, our paycheck, our small savings account, the mortgage, the tax bill, and the list goes on and on.  We are constantly bombarded with stressors that our ancestors didn’t deal with in the day.  It’s a bit overwhelming for our system.  The problem is that most of us are afraid or unwilling to admit that we are stressed.  Heaven forbid we show any sign of a perceived weakness in today’s success-oriented society.

What does all of this have to do with the 3 questions I asked at the top of the post?  Read on.

Life is your existence, the mere fact that you are here, alive, thinking, and doing.

Why are we here?  Because someone has to be, why not you?  I’m sorry, but I just can’t believe that such a perfect machine as the human body “evolved” from some accident through eons of time, it simply makes more sense to me that we were designed, created, and put here by something greater than us…God.

What are we supposed to do with life?  Before I answer that, let me tell you what I think we should not do with life.  We shouldn’t treat each other with disregard and disrespect,  with prejudice, anger, or malice.  We should not fill it with trinkets and gadgets that only stress us out even more.  We should not judge one another by the brand of shoes that we wear, the job that we have, the car that we drive, or the home in which we live.  We should not mock in silence those who have lesser skills than we have learned and we should not dislike those with greater skills than we have learned.

Life is for filling up with the things that you enjoy.  If you want to decorate your cubicle in pink, go ahead, we should give you that freedom to express yourself.  Of course, we should stick to the moral dictates of our society and not be vulgar or disrespectful.  Life is for doing things like climbing a tree, building a soapbox derby car with your kid, for having babies, for eating together, for enjoying the flavor of your meal no matter how extravagant or ordinary, for savoring the grape juice or the wine, for smelling a flower and giving someone you love a few flowers in a small glass, for hugging, for walking your dog, for enjoying the sun in your eyes, the moon in the sky, the stars out at night, the terrible two’s, the smell of the rain, the snow under your sled, the leaves in your yard, the rain in the spring, and all of the things that do not require a WIFI signal or a screen.

I recently took up the practice of meditation.  Before I lose some of you with that line, let me tell you that I was skeptic numero uno…until I tried it.  Nothing religious here, just closing my eyes and thinking on something that is free from emotion or feeling.  In my case, my breathing, the air as it rushes into my body.   It can also be done by looking at an object like say, an apple.  It is an object without any feeling, that is unless you had nightmares as a kid of a giant Fuji apple eating you up in front of your third-grade class.  In that case, maybe an orange would be best.

By doing this, you are bringing your brain under your control.  Since concentrating on your breath or an apple is pretty non-threatening, your brain can relax and you learn what it feels like to begin to control your thoughts and going with them where you want them to go.  Your brain literally gets a chance to relax from all of the stressors of the day. You see, we like to toss around the word “multi-task” as if it was really something a human could do…but it’s not.  So as you meditate on something like your breath, your brain is doing just that, thinking of your breath and not the stressors of the day.  Should you wander off and bring those stressors to mind, simply refocus on your breath, apple, or orange.

So, what is life for?  To enjoy, but that’s difficult if we continue to pursue this so-called American Dream that seems to be turning into the American Nightmare of Stress.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for being our best and doing our best, but not at the expense of living.  Live first, then excel at what your best at.  I think that is living.

Tino Hernandez

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